The Damage to Mothers
Women who have
surrendered children to adoption most often have great difficulties
in getting on with their lives and endure a vast array of psychological
problems stemming from the separation such as: unresolvable grief,
relationship difficulties, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, secondary
[exiled mothers] had sufficient contact with the child at birth
or received sufficient information to enable them to construct
an image of what they had lost. Masterson (1976) has demonstrated
that mourning cannot proceed without a clear mental picture
of what has been lost." - "Psychological Disability
in Women who Relinquish a Baby for Adoption," by Dr. John
T. Condon (Medical Journal of Australia, vol 144,
the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is to regard
unmarried mothers as breeding machines...(by people intent)
upon securing babies for quick adoptions."
- Leontine Young, "Is
Money Our Trouble?" (paper presented
at the National Conference of Social Workers,
who are EXILED mothers ("birthmothers") believed
what "The Experts" at the adoption agencies - in the Adoption Industry
- told us: that we would forget our babies and that adoption
would be painless, or that the pain would be minimal and would soon
go away. If those so-called "experts" had only known, or cared!
SAME "Experts" are still giving young women the same message today.
There are literally THOUSANDS of websites out there encouraging
women - especially young women - to give up their babies.
And NONE of these websites say anything about the devastating effect
that this may have on both the mother AND on her baby. None of them
talk about the unending grief and symptoms of PTSD that most mothers
will experience from losing their children. Many women bury these
emotions for years (after all, we were told to "get over it!"),
usually until at least a year into reunion with their child, at
which point the repressed memories re-surface and devastating flashbacks
begin. A natural parent's PTSD can introduce an added complication
into the reunion, especially if the adoptee is not aware that this
is a common occurance.
ON NATURAL MOTHERS
little research has been done on the subject of natural mothers,
the forgotten corner of the adoption triad. Those few studies
that HAVE been done show
what we natural mothers have known all along - that losing one's
baby to adoption leaves a permanent unresolvable grief.
that NEVER GOES AWAY
the words of one natural mother
1980, I lost my newborn son to adoption. I say "lost"
because, at age 17, I did not have a choice in the matter
- everything was arranged by my parents and the government
social worker, who even ordered the hospital to forbid my
fiance from seeing his newborn son.
around me said that I would "get over it" and be
able to "put it all behind me" and "get on
with my life." I cried endlessly the afternoon i found
out my son was taken from the hospital by his adopters. My
parents told me to think of how much joy i was giving to an
infertile couple, and that i would "get over it."
buried the pain in schoolwork over the next few months, not
knowing I was in shock. Thinking everything was "okay"...
until the shock wore off about 10 months later. Adoption support
groups, caring though they were, did nothing to take the edge
off the pain. After another year of trying to take away the
pain with alcohol, and trying several times to end my life,
i began seeing a psychiatrist for a over a year of weekly
appointments until we realized that her counselling had brought
me no closer to healing. So, we then tried antidepressants,
strong enough to repress all my emotions. And it indeed worked,
long enough to let me "freeze" everything inside,
and bury the pain. I was then able to survive, counting down
the time until my 19 year sentence was over and i was allowed
to search for my son.
thought that finding him again - knowing that he was okay,
alive, happy - would end my pain, would be true bliss. How
wrong i was! The bliss of his presence, yes. But those grey
concrete walls i had built up around the grief and loss came
down. The pain from inside emerged once more. And was it worth
it for his sake? No, as he was endlessly abused by his adopters
his entire young life.
told me that the pain would never go away. No-one told me
that it would be so severe that i would find myself devastated
by grief and loss: so much that I'd end up in the Emergency
ward 4 times in 4 months with my upper intestines constricted
almost into knots. That the endless grief would fatigue my
system so much that i would be unable to work full-time again.
the industry response? "This is a woman who cannot put
the past behind her. She is flawed."
a child dies, the grief can be resolved. It will pass with
time. When a child is lost to adoption, there is no possible
resolution as our children are still LIVING. And living grief,
inescapable pain and loss, every day, is a living nightmare.
This is the reality of adoption, something that agencies and
adopters will NEVER admit to.
OF EXILED MOTHERS
Demeter Project "During the 1940's, 50's, and 60's
and up until the time of Roe v. Wade, thousands upon thousands
of unmarried, pregnant women were sent into maternity homes by
their parents and churches to await the births of their babies
in secret . While in these homes, they experienced emotional,
psychological, and spiritual coercion designed to facilitate the
surrender of their infants to the system of closed adoption which
then existed. The Demeter Project contains a folio of fourteen
images created by Barbara Franks-Morra, a natural mother and artist.
These images address the emotional, spiritual, and psychological
consequences on one individual who underwent this experience."
OF THE FOG: Mothers Speak About Adoption. An online video
of interviews with exiled mothers from the U.S., Canada, and Australia.